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Mary's story

A case study illustrating why we need to change the law

What you need to know

Mary's Story

Loss of a health care service when transitioning to service for older people

Health care
Mary who is blind, a diabetic and receives dialysis for kidney failure has been provided with a home care package for the past 15 years.  On turning 65 she was transferred from the sensory support team for the blind to the social work team for the elderly. After assessment she was informed that whilst she needed help with some tasks they would be unable to provide any services due to limited resources available.

Full story

Mary is registered blind, an insulin dependent diabetic with associated foot problems. She has kidney failure and receives dialysis three times a week; she has cardiac problems and severe arthritis which is treated with morphine. Despite this, she lives independently in her own accommodation, with support from her family who provide for all of her personal care needs. For the past fifteen years the Health and Social Care Trust has also provided Mary with three hours home help service to do cleaning and ironing, which is essential given her blindness. Mary has relied heavily upon this practical care to support her in her own home.

When Mary turned 65 years old, she was informed by social workers from the Health Trust that she would be transferred from the social work team for the blind (sensory support team) to the social work team for the elderly. She was then reassessed by the elderly care team and, while the assessment confirmed that she still required practical help with tasks such as cleaning and ironing, Mary was informed that they were unable to provide the services due to limited available resources

A complaint was made to the Trust, which explained that while they could provide her with a personal care service they were unable to offer any practical home help due to budgetary constraints. Mary’s family provide for all personal care needs, so she does not require assistance from the Trust for this, but she does require practical home service which she now has to source privately and at a cost.

Mary’s transferral from the sensory support team to the elderly support team, which occurred purely because of her age, has resulted in the loss of the three hours of practical home help service that she had relied on for fifteen years. In effect she has lost this service due to her age rather than her needs. Mary feels that this is wrong “I was totally shocked when the two social workers from each team informed me about this decision and I became deeply upset”. Essentially, Mary feels that she has been treated differently as a 65 year-old physically disabled person compared to a 64 year old physically disabled person.
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